A little while ago I got a surprise sample of a new Cognac bottled for The Whisky Exchange, from producer Frapin. The biggest surprise was that they sent this to me since I know absolutely nothing about Cognac.
What I have been told at some point by a friend who knows quite a bit more about this kind of booze (DSA, looking at you!), is that Cognac is all about the blend. Most producers buy their grapes from farmers and distill and blend it for their own releases. So, that was another surprise, to find a single vintage cognac in my mailbox. Single vintage meaning that they severely limited their blending options.
Anyway, I was about to try a Cognac that I was going to review on my blog, without having much prior knowledge. I think the amount of Cognacs I’ve ever had in my life can be counted on one hand. And now I got a 1993 single vintage (meaning it’s 23 years old, if it was bottled this year). Let’s have at it!
It’s quite rich and full, and does remind me of some of the Armagnacs I reviewed a couple of years ago. Some grape must with a very heavy fruitiness. I get a slight whiff of glue with some overripe fruits. It gets more earthy later on.
The palate is slightly dryer and a tad more intense than I expected. Rancio and something else that needs some explanation (See below). Quite dry with some tannins and blue grapes. Oak and banana too.
The finish is a bit lighter than the palate, but still quite dry. A bit more crisp which gives the fruit some more room to come through. The wood and tannins are reduced too. Quite rich still.
Explanation of what I wanted to say above:
I went to visit the Port houses of Porto (or, more accurately, Vilanova de Gaia) some years ago and did some tours of said Port houses there. They have huge vats sitting in the facilities that are used for blending and marrying different batches of Port. They told us that after a few years they need to scratch out those casks since they get covered in some kind of patina, that looks slightly greenish. There was a very specific scent to those casks and that’s what I got here too.
Anyway, without the burden of knowledge or experience, I can only tell you that I thoroughly liked this Cognac. It’s got quite some depth and flavors to explore, so it will keep you interested for a while.
With the extremely limited amount of knowledge of other Cognacs, I also have the feeling that is a more Armagnac like Cognac than some others, which I assume has something to do with the limited blending options. It’s quite old and can’t have been ‘spruced up’ by younger components, not made more heavy or deep by older ones.
So, in short, I really, really liked it. But I won’t rate it since the scale wouldn’t make any sense.
Frapin Cognac, 1993-2017, The Whisky Exchange Exclusive, 43.2%. Available at (duh) The Whisky Exchange, for 140 pounds.
TWE, thanks for the sample!